Anxiety (Panic)/DepressionVitamin D

Testing the effect of vitamin D treatment on symptoms of depression

Low vitamin D levels are associated with depressive symptoms, especially in people with a history of depression.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, evaluated the impact of daily supplementation with vitamin D combined with elemental calcium on depression.

First, the details.

  • 36,282 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Daily supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin D(3) + 1,000 mg of elemental calcium
    • Placebo
  • Depressive symptoms as measured by the Burnam scale and current use of antidepressant medication were used to assess depressive symptoms at the start of the study.
  • 2 years later, women again reported on their antidepressant use, and 2,263 completed a second Burnam scale.
  • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

And, the results.

  • After 2 years, there was no difference in women taking vitamin D and calcium vs placebo.
  • Vitamin D supplementation was not associated with antidepressant use or continuous depressive symptom score.
  • Results adjusted for baseline vitamin D levels and calcium intake, solar irradiance, and other factors were similar.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “The findings do not support a relation between supplementation with 400 IU/day of vitamin D(3) along with calcium and depression in older women.”

It’s possible that previously reported links between low vitamin D and depression might be related to confounding effects such as of lifestyle and diet instead.

It’s also possible that the vitamin D dose taken in this study was too small to have an effect.

9/4/12 20:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.